My New Favorite Running Partner!

While running cross-country in high school I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of running with others and found myself running in a group as often as I could. Since then however I have found it difficult to find someone that runs a similar pace let alone is following a similar plan with workouts that have the same intensity and/or distance.  My new running partner isn’t an actual person, but a GPS watch.

I had been looking at the Garmin Forerunner’s since I was doing triathlons and preparing for my first marathon.  The size of the previous versions of the Forerunners was what caused hesitation in not purchasing one.  Since Garmin released the 610 the size has decreased and become more in line with what you’d expect from a normal sports watch.  From the moment I opened the box I have very pleased with the watch.  From it’s sleek design to endless features this watch can be used in a very basic manner to the perfect training partner/coach.

As I continue to use more and more settings and features I will write future blog posts detailing the features that I find to enjoy most. So far the features of just knowing my distance, pace, and heart rate instantly with a quick glance to my wrist has allowed me to follow my workout plan better, not over doing it.  I encourage you to check out the Garmin 620 Forerunner if you are looking for a GPS watch to take your training to the next level.

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Training Update – 10/23/13

Snow has been in our forecast over the last week or so however we have been lucky enough to not see anything on the ground yet.  For many people in my area of the country we find extra excuses this time of the year to put off training with the thought that we’ll continue it when spring comes.  If you’ve ever visited the Midwest in the spring, you’d know that spring can come any time between March and June depending on the year.  With my race plans for 2014 beginning to take shape, I’m making the committment to staying in great shape throughout the winter to ensure I’m fully ready when I find the starting line for the first time in 2014.

I have still not developed much of a training plan for the “off-season” months other than I’m going to do long runs of 10 miles, 12 miles, 14 miles, 16 miles and then start back over at 10 again.  My current training has had me running 5.25 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then lifting on Tuesday and Thursday, and getting my long run on either Saturday or Sunday (weather pending) and the other day being my rest day.  So far I’m pleased with where it has taken me, however I do not like mundane plans and am looking to change it up.  Before I write on here again, I plan to map out the next few months knowing it may change due to different circumstances but having it written down.  My current lifting routine for the next three weeks is as follows:

Day 1:
Superset 1: Barbell Lunges (8 reps), Dumbbell Flys (8 reps), Bicycle Crunches (30 reps)Superset 2: Slide Board Leg Curls (8 reps), Single Arm Bent Over Rows (8 reps), Toe Touches (30 reps)
Superset 3: Alternating Hammer Curls (10 reps), Overhead Triceps Extensions (10 reps), Supermen (20 reps)

Day 2:Superset 1: Squats (8 reps), Alternating Extension Bench Press (8 reps), Diagonal Crunches (30 reps)
Superset 2: Single Leg Press Machine (8 reps), Seated Rows (8 reps), Leg Raises (25 reps)
Superset 3: Dumbbell Pullovers (10 reps), Front Raises (15 reps), Scissor Kicks (30 reps)

Time to put my head down and figure out this training plan for the off-season.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions on what you would suggest.  Either way I feel like by continuing my weekly mileage I will be in a much better spot come time for the marathon training to ramp up.  Until next time…Happy Running!

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Nuun Hydration Review

Although running is an individual sport (except for a few relays in track and the team aspect in cross country) there is nothing simple about it.  Some could argue that the 100 meter dash is so short, you just line up run for about 9-13 seconds depending how fast you are and you’re done.  However for anyone who looks to continually better their personal record or chase the world record, if you are Usain Bolt, you realize that more goes into achieving that PR other than just lining up at the start line.  It takes practice, dedication and a few lessons learned along the way.

During my recent Sioux Falls Marathon I was thrilled for race day.  My training had gone very well with no injury downtime and I was ready to give my best shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  You can read my full report here, but in short my nutrition failed me. Actually I failed my nutrition.  In my training runs leading up to the marathon I ran my long runs with none to little water, sports drink, or food during them.  I had felt good during each of them and still struggle to not be uneasy about carrying extra things.  I had planned to the aid stations as my water/sports drink fueling spots and had planned to have my wife at designated miles with an array of fueling options.  When I went to take food from her around mile 8/9, my stomach rejected it.  I have now had the opportunity to hone my nutritional strategy and realize that it was most likely the sugary sports drink my stomach didn’t like, so I’ve been on a quest.

I needed something with electrolytes, a little bit of sodium, but no sugars or high fructose corn syrup.  My stomach isn’t too fussy, however when I’m hard at it during a race I’ve learned it doesn’t like sugars.  Luckily through a few friend’s posts on Twitter, I came across Nuun Hydration. Lucky for me we carry these at the company I work at (Swanson Health Products) so I placed an employee order for the Tri-Berry flavor.  The directions for them are simple, add one tablet to 16 oz of water, wait two minutes and like magic before your eyes you have an electrolyte enhanced drink.  My first step was to drink one during an afternoon of work and make sure it didn’t cause any unpleasant situations when my body was not working out.  From the first sip, it reminded me of sugary sports drink but without the super sugary flavor and more thirst quenching.  It has a very enjoyable flavor so it doesn’t come off as bad water, but definitely not as sugary tasting as pop or soda.  Of course there was no problems and so I took it on the road with me.  Through about a dozen trials now during my training I have not had any stomach issues to speak of.

If you are struggling with sports drinks during your workouts I encourage you to give Nuun a try.  Of course I’d suggest you get it at Swanson and you can get a $5 coupon by signing up here, but more importantly as a fellow runner I hope you try it in an effort to get better to achieve that lesson learned that’ll take your running to the next level.  As new runners often tell me, the running community wants each and everyone to get better.  We compete against ourselves with the encourage of others all around us.  Thanks for taking time to read this and I hope it helps you.

Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tablets Tri-Berry

Sioux Falls Marathon Race Recap

I knew going into this race that sub 3:05 is a special time and it would take a special day to achieve it.  My training, my diet, my lack of injuries, and mental preparation had all been spot on.  There was not an inkling in my body that hinted that the day ahead would be nothing less than spectacular.  As I woke up on race my morning I was pumped and ready to get the starting line.  I ate my bagel and yogurt which followed my plan and made my way to the starting line.  With a 6:45 am start, it still felt like night when I arrived at Howard Wood Field.  Seeing the parking lot and track full of runners, the butterflies settled in my stomach.  There was over 500 runners looking to accomplish the same goal as me…to finish the Sioux Falls marathon. 

I found the 3:05 pacer as my plan was to run with him as long as I could and hopefully leave him in the dust once we hit mile 20 or so.  There was quite a few guys (who were similarly aged) who had the same idea.  With the smaller field for the marathon and 3:05 being a fast pace I was one of the first few guys to toe the starting line. BOOM! Went the gun and we were off.One of the biggest mistakes a marathoner can make is going out too fast.  When the gun went off I told myself repeatedly, “You are running faster than you think, you are running faster than you think,” and told myself to stick with the pacer and he said his goal was to run consistent 7:03 miles from mile one through twenty six. 

Mile 1 worked on just getting us out of town which felt like a ghost town as not many residents were moving yet.  As I hit the mile 1 mark, my watched showed 7:13.  I told myself I was just getting settled in and my next mile would be on pace and to just stay relaxed.  Mile 2 featured what seemed to be the hilliest part of the race.  This race has been called one of the flattest so I hope you don’t think I mean I ran up the Rockies or anything when I say it was hilly.  I reach the Mile 2 marker and the watch read 6:47.  I was now 8 secs ahead of the pace and my body felt like it was settling in well.

Shortly after mile 3 I saw my wife and daughter for the first time on the course.  It’s always nice to see people along the race course but seeing your family is always a sweet moment.  Miles three through seven seemed to fly by as I knew I’d see Carliie and Madie again around mile 8.  My splits starting at mile three were: 6:57, 6:53, 7:18, 7:13, 7:32.  As I came out of the Harley Davidson dealership I saw my wife’s vehicle and knew they were just up ahead.  I yelled ahead to my wife to have my water ready and as I approached I unwrapped one of my energy blocks.  As soon as I swallowed half of the energy block my stomach clenched.  It felt like a calf muscle cramping up, except in my stomach.  I was brought to a halt and knew this needed to work itself out or Boston was not going to happen.

When my stomach relaxed 10-15 secs later I took one last sip of water and took off again.  Mile 8 was clocked at 8:05 and by mile 9 I was back down to a 7:35.  I knew being about 90seconds behind was too much too early.  I was really hoping I would see people over the next few miles to keep my spirits up, however this was thetime to put 3+ miles in on a bike path, near the airport, far from fans. By the time I reached the half-marathon mark I was pleased with a new unofficial PR for a half-marathon, however I knew I was 6 minutes behind my marathon pace.  When I saw Carlie and Madie at mile 14, my spirits were at the lowest they have been in quite awhile.

I had wanted to accomplish this goal so bad and it set in that it wasn’t going to happen on this day.  From miles 14 to 21, I just put one foot in front of the other.  I didn’t want to try and discect why I had stomach cramping earlier or complain about the warm, humid air or place blame on something or someone. My mile splits weren’t great and  I walked through the aid stations but I was accomplishing another marathon, something that .1% of society does.  When I saw Carlie and Madie for the last time on the course at Mile 21, my attitude was the complete opposite of when I saw them before.  Seeing them was exactly what I needed and although there was only five miles left to go, it would be the five toughest miles yet.

The last miles seemed to crawl by like I remember them doing in Minneapolis in 2007 at my first marathon, but a runner’s kindness that the running community knows so well was in full force.  If you saw someone that was walking for awhile you encouraged them to come with you as you passed.  Everyone told each other they were doing great and that they were almost there.   I’m always amazed that you rarely know too many people at the starting line, but you feel like good friends by the time you reach the finish line.  As we turned onto Oxbox Ave the finish line was in sight.

There were quite a few volunteers helping direct the parcticipants into the appropriate chutes as both the marathon and half-marathon had the same last seven mile course.  I had told my wife that unless I was really close to the BQ time, either slow or fast, I wanted to get Madie from her 20-30 yards from the finish and carry her across with me.  I will write a follow up post discussing why this was important to me, however as I grabbed her from Carlie my calves wanted to cramp with each step.  I held her tightly and hobbled/ran across the finish line.  I had done it. I had completed my second marathon. 

A few THANKS I want to give out:

-The man and woman at mile 8 and 20 that were handing out bags of ice.  With the warm humid weather these were a very much appreciated surprise.

-All the volunteers that worked the aid stations. They would shout out if they had water or powerade so you knew what you were getting 15-20 ft before you got to them.

-To my wife Carlie for lugging Madie around and seeing me at four different spots on the course.  It always great to see spectators but seeing your fans make you want to run faster and make them proud.

Marathon Training Update: Knee Injury, New Shoes and Speed Workouts

The last month has seen some of my training highs and lows since I started running again in early 2013.  After running a “slow” 6 miler on Friday, I woke up Saturday (7/20) with a swollen knee. My knee felt like a rubber band that someone was stretching to it’s max and all it wanted to do was snap.  I had a 18 mile long run planned on Saturday and rather than further injuring myself I took to the ice and advil plan.  I know how much it helps to get the long runs in during training for a marathon, but knew I still had plenty of time to recover, get some long 20 mile runs in, and still be in great shape come race if I just was smart about this swollen knee.

After five days of resting my knee, it was feeling great so I ventured out for a 2 mile run with no pain during, after or the following day.  I slowly was ramping my mileage back up and have been very careful since ensuring I listen to my body and treat it like a delicate tool.  Although there is no high like crossing the finish line on race day like I did in May at the Fargo Half-Marathon and plan to do in Sioux Falls in just a few short weeks, great training runs are a close second.  The marathon plan that I have modified is to run a sub 3:30. My goal has been the entire time to run a 3:04:59, the qualifying standard for my age group, so for all the speed workouts I’ve increased the speed at which they were to be done.

The speed workouts have reminded me very much of my high school cross-country training days besides not having the large group of people to push you through the  800 or mile repeat.  Although they many times can be tougher than a long run, the pain from them is temporary and once it is over, the feeling of what you just accomplished can leave one speechless.  Every time I have one of these speed workouts I can’t wait to run that day and almost get jittery at work with excitement.  As I write this blog post I’ve already been looking ahead to when I have 800 repeats again.

Lastly, I made a change in the footwear department.  I will write a more extensive blog post about my reasoning on why I decided to make the change, but I am enjoying my new New Balance 890v2’s.  Through five runs now I continue to like the feel of them more each time and am looking for a pair of race flats for New Balance for future marathons.  For the Sioux Falls marathon I have decided to use the New Balance 890’s that I have been wearing for my training as they will be broken in but should still be very comfortable over the 26.2 miles.  Please check back for my extensive post about why I made the switch the New Balance as I feel very passionate about this decision and encourage others to do the same.

I hope everyone has many happy miles in their training and upcoming races! I already am giddy about the Sioux Falls Marathon on September 8th when I will look to crush my PR of 4:13…by hopefully over an hour 🙂

July 10th Training Update

With less than two months to go until my next race, the Sioux Falls Marathon, my training is kicked into high gear.  My training plan has me running 5 days a week with Thursdays and Sundays being my rest days.  Monday’s are a speed workout day with my plan calling for 16 x 400’s with a 2 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down. Most people might find it weird but I enjoy speed workouts with repeats as it breaks it up and allows me to stay focused on one thing at a time.  While racing I try to do the same thing breaking the long race up into smaller chunks that make the total race more manageable.

Tuesdays are a 5-6 mile recovery run after the speed workouts on Monday.  Most people wouldn’t call these “short” runs but that is what they are for me.  Wednesdays I would consider my tempo run days. For this workout today I had a two mile warm-up followed by 3 reps of 2 miles run at a fast pace with a 3 minute break between reps. These workouts like my speed workouts have 1 mile cool down at the end.  After a rest day on Thursday, Friday is similar to Tuesday in that I just go for a short run to get the legs going again.  The distance again is usually in the 5-7 mile range.

Saturday is when I let it all hang out. Okay it’s not as bad as it sounds but Saturday is my distance day.  Each week I’m usually adding 1-2 more miles on than the previous week and it’s my chance to simulate different nutrition ideas in an effort to understand my body better for race day.  My training plan usually has these runs set a “steady” pace, however my goal is usually to run a solid first half of the distance and then run the second half based on how my body is feeling.  I’m more worried about getting the distances in than my speed but when my body is feeling good like it usually does it’s nice to come home strong.

I have also been using my foam roller from TP Therapy on a regular basis to help my muscles stay loose and ready for the training.  Doing this is a new practice for me since about early June so I’m not an expert yet, but I do feel like I’m making good strides in taking better care of my body ahead of time so it will limit my injuries.  I’ve also been doing some research about different supplements that I plan to start taking to help with joints and also recovery.  I plan to discuss my findings in a future post regarding the supplements and the effects I feel once I begin taking them.  If you would like to share any experience of supplementation that you have done to be proactive about your body’s health and prevent injuries please leave it in a comment below.  I look forward to many more miles in July and early August as I get prepared to hopefully BQ in Sioux Falls!

Swanson Vitamin’s Grass-Fed, Certified rBGH-Free Chocolate Whey Protein Powder Review

Growing up I have always had issues putting weight on. I know this is not the normal problem facing much of society but as an athlete I wanted extra weight to help make my hits hurt a little bit more the corners during the hockey season (for the record I don’t think I was ever able to make someone remember me from the hits I gave).  No matter what I tried, protein shakes, extra lifting, eating 3,000-4,000 calories a day, you name it not an extra ounce was gained.  Through all my trials and no successes by my standards I did learn some things.  The more protein in my diet, the less often I would be “starving” and crave more food (Again I don’t want to lose any weight but I also don’t have the time to eat 24/7).

When I began running longer distances again, my metabolism seemed to speed up yet again. I’m 6’2″ and 150 lbs on a good day and the last thing I need is a faster metabolism. Ask my wife and she will tell you I can eat all day every day and the worst of foods for your body and not gain an ounce; she is astonished.  I decided to look for a protein powder to use in shakes that would give me some extra protein to keep me more full longer.  Since I started my new job at Swanson Health Products, I thought I should look at the products we carry and see if it matched what I was looking for.  Although finding healthy options at the store, a restaurant, or online are not always the cheapest option, I was torn about going all organic, grass-fed, and rBGH-free but I thought I’d give it a try.  A few guys at work had great things to say about our Grass-Fed, Certified rBGH-Free Chocolate Whey Protein Powder so I bit the bullet and ordered some.

When I mixed up my first shake using water it blended well and had a great flavor.  Protein powders can not always have the best of flavor but I actually enjoyed drinking this one.  In future drinks I have used milk which makes it a little thicker but still continues to mix well and taste great.  The biggest thing that I have noticed about this powder is that it makes me feel more full for a longer period of time.  I will have a shake as a post-run recovery or during the mid-afternoon when I get that “2:30 feeling” and be satisfied until my next meal.  Of course the great thing about Swanson Health Products is the quick shipping; their Google trusted store badge shows orders leave in one day from their warehouses.  Plus with a 365 day return policy if you are not 100% satisfied, they will refund your money.  If you are into saving money too, sign up for their email list or like them on Facebook as they are always running promotions.

I’m now on my 3rd tub of the protein powder and still am receiving the great quality product that I’ve become accustomed to. If anything changes I will let you know and update this post, otherwise best of luck with your training and learning your nutritional needs.